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Scientists have discovered a mysterious population of previously unknown cells lurking in the human body, according to a new study.
The enigmatic new cell type, called immune cell X, is a changeling that can act as two other cell types. And this rogue hybrid cell may trigger type 1 diabetes.
Scientists - Cells - Population - Cells - Blood
Scientists have long believed that hybrid cells like these could not exist. The population of these cells is likely tiny; perhaps less than 7 out of every 10,000 white blood cells, said study co-author Abdel-Rahim A. Hamad, associate professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
But they may play an outsize role in the development of autoimmunity.
Hamad - Live - Science
"They are very rare, but we think they are very powerful," Hamad told Live Science.
Normally, white blood cells patrol the body, swallowing foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses. After digesting these invaders into tiny fragments, the white blood cell displays one of these digested fragments, or the antigen, on its cell surface.
Types - Blood - Cells - B - T
Two types of white blood cells — B and T cells — are incredibly powerful tools in the immune system's arsenal. B cells crank out billions of individualized antibodies, which uniquely bind to specific antigens. Killer T cells destroy cells that display specific antigens, and both B and T cells can activate each other, creating a powerful feedback loop.
Key to all these processes is a special protein found on the outer surface of immune cells, called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which is where the antigen docks. B cells bind the antigen to the MHC, and receptors on T cells then bind this MHC-antigen complex and activate the T cells.
Autoimmune - Diseases - Process - Body - Cells
In autoimmune diseases, this process gets corrupted, and the body's own cells are mistaken for foreign enemies. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system relentlessly destroys beta...
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